Solarization Comes With Hidden Costs
In order to determine the effects of solarization on crops, researchers measure the amount of soil heating caused by polyethylene in three soil depths. This can be compared with the temperature in non-solarized soil at 10 cm. Soil heating can affect plant growth, yield, and pest control. Moreover, a solar panel can reduce energy bills by as much as 30%. However, solarization is not without its costs. These costs are usually hidden in the initial investment.
Biosolarization releases toxins
In California, biosolarization is used to improve soil fertility and control nematodes. Researchers conducted biosolarization in a nine-day period, at high temperatures and concentrations of organic acid biopesticide. Soil fertility was measured periodically, and the results showed a substantial increase in nitrogen, potassium, and total carbon in the first year of biosolarized crops. In contrast, biosolarization did not increase the number of nematodes, although the study found no evidence of any toxins in the soil.
In addition to releasing natural products from soil, biosolarization can also increase soil temperatures. In one study, compost was used to raise soil temperatures. Similar results were obtained with green manures from cover crops. However, tarping of soil amended with high carbon inputs can lead to an accumulation of organic acids, which are toxic to many soilborne pathogens. Biosolarization may be a useful tool for pest control, but more research needs to be done before its application.
Process takes 4-6 weeks
During this time, you should prepare the area where you want to solarize by raking off any existing weeds and debris. Then, you should till the area to improve the penetration of heat from the sun. After tilling, you must remove any debris or loose stones that may rip or tear the plastic cover. This is essential in order to ensure that the plastic will not tear easily. It takes 4-6 weeks to complete the solarization process.
Depending on the type of soil, solarization can take anywhere from four to eight weeks. The temperature can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the top 6 inches of soil, and up to 90-98 degrees in the middle two inches. However, the benefits of solarization are seen first in the top six inches of soil. This process should be completed before planting fall crops or lawns in the summer. However, it’s important to note that the process may result in the re-emergence of weed seeds or pests.
Effects on pests
Solarization is an environmentally friendly method for controlling soil-borne pests. Solarization uses tarps to capture the heat of the sun and trap it in the soil. Pests cannot survive in super-heated soil. The solar radiation trapped in the soil is toxic to weeds and other pests, but beneficial microbes will thrive at the high temperatures. Solarization may improve soil health, increasing the availability of nutrients and nitrogen to growing plants. Solarization affects soil the most at the surface of the earth. It decreases at depths of 18 inches or more. Soil solarization is most effective in the upper six inches of the earth.
Solarization had a relatively small effect on lentil and faba bean growth. There was no effect on the number of free-living nematodes in the solarized plots. However, the presence of Sitona larvae, which damage the nodules of these crops, was detected in the soil during early crop development. On average, 18 to 46 eggs per 100 g of soil were found. Unlike most other crops, solarization did not significantly affect Sitona population levels.
A recent initiative in Vermont and New Hampshire has lowered the cost of solar panels through bulk purchasing. The initiative has been a big hit locally, and more than 100 residents from three towns have signed up to get free site visits and quotes. But there are still challenges ahead. For example, the plastic cost for solar panels is still quite high, with the best materials costing about $150 per acre. And even if solar panels are installed, they need to be maintained.
The state government provides 30% capital subsidy, while the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) provides a loan for 65% of the total cost. Farmers must pay the remaining 5%, thereby making solarization very affordable for them. The loan from NABARD comes with a six percent interest rate and must be repaid in seven years. Farmers can then draw their power from the grid or inject solar power into the grid. The DISCOM and state government pay the farmers Rs3.5 per kWh for the first 25 years.
After solarization, the area should be cleaned of all vegetation, dead leaves, and debris. Water the soil to a depth of 12 inches before covering the area with plastic. The heat from the plastic will kill the seeds and plants, and disposing of the plastic can become a problem if it is not strong and can break apart easily. It can take up to 6 weeks to decompose. The next step is to remove the plastic from the soil.
If the area you’re covering with solarization isn’t already cleared of vegetation, you can do this before applying the solar panels. Tilling the soil increases heat penetration, and you should also remove any debris that might puncture the plastic. Afterwards, remove any weed seeds that may have survived. To prevent holes in the plastic, you should remove all debris before solarizing. If there’s a chance that you’ll use the treated area for other purposes, consider keeping the solar panels and the soil clean and weed-free.